The long-awaited announcement by CDC on the effectiveness of the short-course
AZT treatment for preventing HIV transmission to the offspring was issued
on February 18, and the results are good.
According to the
CDC, the less expensive short course being evaluated
in Thailand reduces the transmission by half . This is welcome news for
those who could not afford the more expensive treatment being used in the
United States and Europe, but have the same feelings of pain and sorrow,
when watching their infected children die of AIDS.
Each low-cost improvement in therapy, whether for treating infected
individuals or for preventing mother-to-child transmission, offers new
hope for controlling the epidemic.
What Thailand and other higher prevalence countries will need to decide
next, is how best to detect HIV infection in pregnant women so that young
children can benefit from the knowledge.
Is it ethical for a mother in Thailand to avoid testing when doing so
may endanger her child? Does the child have a right to treatment, or do
Thai mothers, if they so desire, have a greater right to avoid testing?
These issues will need to be addressed soon, now that CDC has provided
another means for prevention.